France's EDF to cut 5% of jobs


Levallois-Perret (France) (AFP)

French electricity firm EDF has announced plans to cut five percent of its staff over the next three years as it tries to face up to increased competition and difficult market conditions.

With a workforce of 67,000, that means some 3,350 jobs will go, although unions said as many as 4,200 posts may in fact be cut under the plan.

French business daily Les Echos, meanwhile, said the company would look to cut 6,000 staff worldwide by 2019, a move that would particularly affect British subsidiary EDF Energy.

State-controlled EDF said "increased competition and unfavourable market conditions in France and Europe require the company to adapt", although it said no one would be forced out of their job. Most reductions are expected to be made by not replacing staff who retire or leave the company.

The reduction is considerably higher than the 2,000 that EDF previously announced it would cut, and comes with joblessness a major political headache for France's Socialist government, which is grappling with unemployment near an 18-year high of 10.2 percent.

The staff cuts were denounced as "unacceptable" by Philippe Page Le Merour of the CGT union, adding that a plan to find savings of 700 million euros ($750 million) over three years comes at the "worst possible moment" for the company as it faces undertaking major refits of its nuclear power plants.

The firm's nuclear, hydroelectric and coal businesses were all expected to be affected, a CGT official said, but EDF's nuclear operations were likely to be least affected.

Three unions called for a strike after the job cuts were announced, with a fifth of employees walking out, according to management.